Lesson 1: Determine Your Scope

Are you doing a series of easy updates or committing to a full overhaul? Without a project scope in place, creating a budget and building a timeline are impossible tasks.


Lesson 2: Don’t Overlook Easy Fixes

Most homes being renovated have things like electrical work and appliances that are out-of-date, and replacing them would yield monetary savings in the long run.

“All the recessed lighting and the track lighting had incandescent bulbs, which we replaced with LEDs, It’s so much more energy-efficient now. Same thing with all of the appliances: Even though they worked, they weren’t operating as efficiently as they could. It’s important to consider how technology and design have evolved over time, particularly when you’re renovating an older home.”


Lesson 3: Consider Contingencies

A rotted windowsill, a crack in the foundation, unforeseen water damage… A home inspection will reveal most of a home’s structural issues, but not all. You can’t take a house apart before you buy it, but you can have an engineer and an inspector and a contractor take a look, but there’s always going to be something that comes up.


Lesson 4: Think (and Plan) in Phases

Do what’s on your must-have list, and do it well, before tackling your nice-to-have list. This will allow you to parcel out your budget into phases and save up for what you really want. Plus, granting yourself as much time as possible to live in a place before altering it lets you get a feel for how the space functions—you might just end up loving that thing you thought you loathed.


Lesson 5: Build Your Team

Without the right partners, your vision will fall short, established a level of trust with your team.

For first-time renovators, the best way to find people to work with is through referrals. If there’s a friend’s house you like, ask them who they used.  Called them and have them come over and show you samples and give an estimate. Trust your gut. Chemistry’s also important with these things.


Lesson 6: Create a Database (and Use It)

Whether it’s you or your subcontractor who’s acting as project manager, creating a spreadsheet of everything purchased and all the tasks at hand is essential. It will serve as a point of reference for you and your team, helping to keep everyone on track and focused on priorities.

The more methodical your spreadsheet is, the better. Organize it so that like items are kept together. This way, the electrician can scroll right to lighting, the plumber to faucets, and so on. This’ll prove particularly helpful when things get chaotic and you have people from different trades needing information about different things all at the same time. Then create a series of additional tabs detailing everything from debris removal to contractor bills to miscellaneous expenses.